New bishops meet with Pope Benedict, as does leader of Montenegro

.- Pope Benedict XVI had brief audiences with a number of people on Monday morning, including three newly ordained bishops and the prime minister of Montenegro. 

Bishops Jean Laffitte, Mario Toso and Giovanni D'Ercole were accompanied by family members as they met Benedict XVI at the Papal residence in Vatican City. The three were ordained as bishops just a day earlier at a well attended ceremony officiated by the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Each of them had already received orders for a new appointment in the last 2 months. Bishop Laffitte, who had worked with the Pontifical Council of the Family as an under-secretary since 2005, became Secretary of that Council on Oct. 22, 2009. On that same date, Bishop Toso was appointed as of Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from his post at the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome, where he had been serving as Dean of the Philosophy Department since 2003.  Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole, a former director of the Holy See's press office, was chosen to be Auxiliary Bishop of Aquila, the region of Italy hit hardest by an earthquake earlier this year. 

The Holy Father also received the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, in audience  Monday morning. Following his encounter with the Pope, the prime minister went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the secretary for Relations with States.

In the meeting, the Secretaries and prime minister Djukanovic discussed current international affairs, the present domestic situation and the challenges facing Montenegro.  They also touched on the Montenegrin government's efforts to promote "peace and harmony" among the country's ethnically and religiously diverse population.

Montenegrin and Serbian Orthodox Churches have been in dispute since the 1920's about which is the legitimate Church in the small country.  Adding to the confusion, the bishop of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, Mihailo, was ordained by the patriarch of a schismatic synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1998. Upon being ordained, Mihailo was excommunicated by the Orthodox Church of Istanbul.

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